The function and origin of the CD4+ T cell in the classical Hodgkin lymphoma microenvironment
Classical Hodgkin lymphoma (CHL) is a germinal centre B cell malignancy where the bulk of the tumour comprises a non-clonal immune infiltrate enriched for CD4+ T cells. The role of these cells in the pathophysiology of CHL is poorly understood. Biomarkers predictive of clinical outcome in CHL are limited. This thesis examines microenvironment biomarkers with the goal of identifying the 10-20% of patients who are not cured by conventional therapy, and also investigates the function of the CD4+ T cell in CHL. The prognostic power of FOXP3, a marker of regulatory T cells, CD68, a macrophage marker and CD20, a B cell marker, is validated in a new patient cohort and for the first time CD68 and FOXP3 are combined in a statistically robust scoring system. The data presented challenge the assumption that the microenvironment is Th2-polarised or senescent and demonstrates relative over-expression of T-BET, a Th1 marker and under-expression of PD1, a marker of senescence/exhaustion, with little evidence for Th2 marker expression. A cytokine-enriched in vitro culture system was developed demonstrating superior proliferation and longevity of CHL-derived T cells compared to non-malignant tissue-derived controls. These cells sustain expression of markers associated with proliferation and longevity (e.g. CD27, CD28) and remain functional (express cytokines) for many weeks. A panel of CD4+ T cell-specific markers was determined capable of differentiating CHL-derived from non-malignant or non-Hodgkin lymphoma-derived CD4+ T cells, in which markers of central memory (CD62L and CCR7) and early activation (CD69) are over-represented and markers of senescence (CD57 and PD1) are under-represented. Cytokine profiles were found to resemble Th1 (expression of IL2, IFN- and TNF expression) rather than Th2 (IL4, IL13, IL21, IL10 and IL6) responses. The data presented confirm a new prognostic biomarker signature and show a Th1 rather than Th2-dominated microenvironment enriched for cytokine-secreting functional effector CD4+ T cells and long-lived, proliferative cells resembling central memory cells rather than hypoproliferative, anergic, non-functional T cells.
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